Elizabeth Foulkes Jones
Elizabeth was born into the Williams family in Rowen near Conway in North Wales on 2nd December 1928. Her mother, Jenny had been in service and her father, William, was a master carpenter and wheelwright who had seen service in the first world war. Elizabeth was the oldest of four children, her younger sister Mair Eluned had a weak heart and died in 1932 at the age of 2 when Elizabeth was 4. Her younger brother David Richard was born in 1933 he was followed by Ann in 1944.
Although they lived in the village of Rowen they were part of a community of relatives and friends who owned or worked on farms and a lot of the family’s social life revolved around the chapel and local farms.
Elizabeth was staying with her aunt when she started school in Conwy. She spoke Welsh at home and did not understand English at first. This was at a time when the speaking of Welsh was not permitted in school, so it was not easy for her. Despite this, she passed her scholarship at 11 and started at Llanrwst Grammar School in 1939.
She was sheltered from the war during her childhood in North Wales and left school at 16. She went to work in a care home, first in Rowen and then in Llandudno. It was in Llandudno that she met Maldwyn Jones who came from a village near Dolgelley in mid Wales and who was working for the then Estate Duty Office a part of the civil service that had been moved out of London for the duration of the war. When plans were made for the Estate Duty Offices to return to Somerset House in London in 1946 Maldwyn asked Elizabeth to come to London with him. Elizabeth was only 18 and this did not go down well at home with Elizabeth’s parents as Maldwyn was ten years older than her. Eventually agreement was given and Elizabeth and Maldwyn married in Harrow at the end of October 1947.
They moved from lodgings in Harrow to a flat in Notting Hill four years later and Margaret was born in 1952. It was a Welsh-speaking home and part of the London Welsh community. Elizabeth’s younger brother David lived with them for a time while he developed his career as a quantity surveyor and was a much loved member of the family.
Much of the West London area was still bomb damaged and very rundown in the 1950s and after Jonathan was born in 1955 the family were happy to move to Tolworth in September 1956 to a semi in Hamilton Avenue where Elizabeth has lived ever since. Although there was some talk of moving back to Wales when they retired, when it came to it they preferred to stay in Tolworth.
When Margaret and Jonathan were small Elizabeth worked as nursing assistant at night in the then Tolworth Hospital which had long stay chronic wards. She enjoyed the work and it suited her kind and compassionate nature, though she was sometimes upset by things she saw at work. Later on she worked at Surbiton Eye Hospital in the Outpatients Department. It was a friendly and loyal team and she remained friends with some of the people she met there for the rest of her life, writing, visiting and speaking to them regularly over many years.
Maldwyn passed his driving test and bought a car in the 1960s and this started a series of camping trips, visits to Wales and car outings which seemed very exotic and exciting. When the children left home Maldwyn and Elizabeth continued to enjoy trips out for many years to places like Bognor and the New Forest.
In the 1970s after the children had left home Maldwyn and Elizabeth also enjoyed a period of foreign travel and visited both Greece and Yugoslavia. Maldwyn retired from the Civil Service in 1983 and Elizabeth joined him a few years later so they could spend more time together. They enjoyed doing the garden together and spent many happy hours out of doors.
Elizabeth and Maldwyn were delighted when their grand-daughter Hannah was born in 1983 and they thoroughly enjoyed being grandparents. They were sad when she moved to Sussex when her mother remarried but still took her with them on trips to Wales which were thoroughly enjoyed by all. Hannah now lives in Australia.
Elizabeth enjoyed being a grandmother again when Owen was born in 2001.. She was sensitive to his needs and knew that he was calmer out of doors when he felt upset. She was always thinking of things to please him and kept a stock of sweets and fizzy drinks to tempt him when he visited.
Elizabeth was a lovely Mum, kind and caring, especially when we were ill as children when she could not do enough to make us comfortable and help us get better. She was always friendly to others and enjoyed meeting people. She was full of ideas and always had something new to think about and look forward to. If there was problem with anything she always had a way to make things all right, without a fuss.
In the early years of her retirement she helped her neighbours and supported several elderly people around her in the later years of her life. She was friends with her next door neighbour Julia and was very attached to her and her children, Jasmine, Donya and Adam. They gave Elizabeth a lot of support as she grew older.
Towards the end of Maldwyn’s life she looked after him and made him comfortable when he was ill and in pain with arthritis, diabetes and heart problems. Elizabeth and Maldwyn were together for 55 years and enjoyed a long and happy marriage until his death in August 2002.
When Maldwyn died Elizabeth felt very lost and alone without him at first until gradually her natural resilience led her to start building a new life for herself. He had made sure she was financially secure and she started to enjoy getting things done to the house and making it her own. She had new windows put in, had the outside repainted, redecorated the hall and had some new carpets fitted. She loved Tolworth, her garden and the house and knew she wanted to stay there as long as she could. She had a downstairs shower and toilet built and then added a garden room that became her potting shed where she could grow and nurture the plants she loved, as well as sit and daydream. It was a lovely place to relax.
Elizabeth had long had a curiosity about other religions and had moved around a bit-she had been a member of the chapel in the village of Rowen, she went to both Methodist and Congregational Nonconformist churches in London as well as the Welsh Sunday School in Kingston and for many years attended the local CofE church in Hamilton Avenue. St Georges was in the heart of the local community and she made lifelong friends there. However she had for some time had a deep interest in Jehovah’s Witnesses and had seen something in the kindness and sympathy of the members she met that deeply attracted her.
She began a course of Bible study that lasted six years until in 2008 at the age of 80 she was baptised at a gathering. She was ecstatic about it and entered a state of spiritual grace which lasted the rest of her life. She was thrilled by the bible study and it gave her endless mental stimulation, she loved learning about the techniques for going from door to door and though she was not well enough to do it for long, she enjoyed going out on missions. She was warm and kind and generous and enjoyed great warmth and kindness in return from members of her congregation.
Although her family did not share Elizabeth’s beliefs they really appreciated the pleasure, joy and companionship she experienced from being part of the Jehovah Witness congregation in Tolworth.
Elizabeth was very independent and despite being very unwell for many years with the heart failure and COPD that eventually led to her death, she kept going. She was always able to enjoy life, take pleasure in others, think of their needs and adjust her life to fit her increasing limitations. She never complained.
Her heart failure and breathing problems led to her sleeping a lot and she was on medication for epilepsy that made her drowsy yet she always managed to stay with it and on the ball. Right to the end she could only walk very slowly yet she went to the shops every day except in the coldest or wettest weather in winter.
Winter this year was long and hard for Elizabeth, and she was really looking forward to Spring. A series of falls and hospital admissions led to her needing support with personal care at home, temporarily, we thought, but then she began sleeping most of each day. She had been very unwell but was determined to go to a farewell party for a member of the congregation at the beginning of April. In the event she went to the Easter gathering on the Saturday before as well, making a superhuman effort to get there and this gave her the opportunity to see the friends from the congregation she had been missing over the winter.
She was admitted to hospital for the last time on 4th April with breathing difficulties and died peacefully in the early hours of the 15th April. Many friends came to see her in the last few days at the hospital and I think she very much appreciated the kindness and concern shown to her in the last weeks of her life.
She is greatly missed by her close family-her sister Ann; her son Jonathan and his wife Yesim ;her daughter Margaret and her husband Paul ; her two grandchildren Hannah and Owen.
There are many in the wider family who hold her in high esteem but are not able to travel to the funeral and we hope to have a memorial for Elizabeth in Wales to include them a little later in the year.